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February 25, 2009 > Lower property taxes at no charge

Lower property taxes at no charge

Submitted By Russ Hall

Property taxpayers in Alameda County may receive offers from private companies to reduce their home's assessed value for a fee. This is a service that the County Assessor performs for free.

Taxpayers are encouraged to wait until they receive their annual notification of assessed value in July before deciding if they wish to challenge their 2009-10 assessment and pay a fee to a third party for assistance.

The Assessor is required to assess real estate at the property's Proposition 13 base year value or at its market value on January 1, whichever is less. Alameda County Assessor Ron Thomsen believes "no taxpayer should pay more than their fair share of taxes." Most properties purchased over seven years ago have Proposition 13 base year values well below current market value, even with the added 2 percent annual state-mandated inflation index.

Due to decline in residential real estate values over the last few years, Thomsen is informing homeowners who purchased their property after Jan. 1, 2002, that his staff is reviewing 2009-10 assessments to determine if a temporary reduction can be provided. The Assessor estimates as many as 100,000 properties will receive assessment reductions without any action or the need for costly assistance from outside parties. All property owners will receive a pre-tax bill notification in July, detailing their 2009-10 assessment and indicating any reduction provided.

Paying a private company as much as $100 for an opinion of value at this time is unnecessary. If the market value of your property has declined below its indexed base year assessed value, you will be assessed at that lower value by the Assessor at no charge when he finalizes the assessment roll in late June.

If property taxpayers wish to request an individual informal review of their property's 2009-10 assessed value after receiving the July notification, they may do so by returning a simple, printable form available at Property owners who do not agree with their 2009-10 assessment and wish to appeal will have from July 2 until September 15 to file an application with the assessment appeals board. If you have any questions regarding a possible reduced assessment for 2009-10, the Assessor encourages you to call his office at (510) 272-3787 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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